The Other Area 51

This month on our blog, we’re celebrating ten years of telling stories by highlighting ten of our favorite projects. Even though video production has been our primary work, it’s led us down streets we did not expect but have come to love. 

In 2017, our company went on a (rebel) pilgrimage to New York City for inspiration and connection. We often end up going back to that trip in conversation and talking about how we want our experience there to be operative in our regular work life together. The moment we talk about the most was our guided tour of street art. While we wandered the city together and learned about premiere graffiti, we also learned how we want to create on a regular basis. We came back wondering how we could offer the gift of that city-as-gallery trek to people in Cincinnati. 

There’s great value in looking off into the distance together, being in new arenas with the same old people, and learning about something other than our jobs. These experiences let us see our work, and our co-workers, in brand new lights.

When we talk to organizations about their branding and video needs, we often end up with a pile of information about the culture of an organization– not just the story they want to tell the world, but the stories they are telling themselves. As we help companies create story-driven media, we have also seen ways to cultivate story-driven work culture. 

Some of our favorite projects in the last few years have been creating and producing live events for organizations, giving them space to invest in their employees and to recalibrate why and how they work together. 

We produced Kroger’s Annual All-Hands Meeting. We led 84.51’s Partner-level employees through an experiential learning day along the Ohio River. And for the last couple years, we’ve crafted 84.51’s annual employee off-site experience called Area 51. 

Just like that other Area 51 that is about to get invaded by a collection of random internet people, most of what happens at their event is a secret. But we can tell you that we love getting to plan and produce this day for them. Our first year, we used the day to explore all the ways the Hero’s Journey could help them communicate with each other and larger crowds. There was also a solid dose of improv comedy and a live afternoon concert from the Birds of Chicago. We came back to Area 51 for a second year and gave them a day to play and create together, hoping that a day filled with building race cars could translate to the work they need to do on all the other days. We all have a lot to learn about competition and collaboration and some of that is best learned through revisiting the way we first learned it all on the playground.

When we imagine the story we want to tell and write as a company, it involves more than the telling of good stories, but the shared living of good stories.